Location: 2626 Hillside St SE
Women’s History; Local register
|Belsito House-2626 Hillside, 1940, Thurston County Assessor, Southwest Regional Archives|
Belsito House-2626 Hillside today (2013), Photo by Deb Ross
During the late 1930s and 1940s, Trena Belsito built four homes in the neighborhood of 27th Avenue and Hillside Avenue, in the Wildwood Neighborhood of Olympia (see also Belsito (Worthington) House-27 th Ave and Belsito (Worthington) House-2616 Hillside). Though not a trained architect, she copied a Georgian-Colonial-French Eclectic style home shown in Architectural Digest. She varied the design elements for each of the houses by reorienting the garage, adding a different entryway, etc. Three of the houses, two of them located on Hillside Avenue and one on 27th Avenue, are currently on the local register, including this one at 2626 Hillside (also known as “Belsito Worthington #1” and “Howard McClary House”). The Thurston County Assessor’s photograph from 1940 at above left is instructive since it shows the home under construction, making it easier to notice the similarities among all four Belsito homes. Trena Belsito lived in at least two of these Wildwood homes. Her culminating work, in about 1978, was a large home, an expansion of the same design, located on, and visible from, the Deschutes Parkway.
Trena Selvidge was born in 1908 in Olympia, the last of a very large family. Her father worked for the Bordeaux Lumber Company, and her mother ran a store, Selvidge’s, in downtown Olympia. Trena was first married, at age 17, to Leo Belsito, an Italian immigrant who operated a shoe repair shop. The Belsitos lived on the Hillside Avenue property, where she built the homes. They had a daughter, Julia, and a son, Jules. Julia died in 1939 at age 11. Shortly before this, Trena attended the University of Oregon for one year, but is later found listed in the 1940 census living on Hillside with Leo, and must have begun building homes around that time. She directed the construction of and contracting for all the homes.
Belsito passed the bar in 1950. In 1958, at age 49, she married Norman Worthington. (Although some of the Wildwood Neighborhood homes are given the names “Belsito Worthington”, or “Worthington,” Trena built these homes well before she married Norman Worthington.)